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Concerns Of Local Residents With Loved Ones In The Middle East Grow As Conflict Escalates

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By Steve Patterson

ALLENTOWN, Pa., (CBS) — Allentown resident ‘Nagi’ isn’t sleeping very well.

“I feel helpless,” he said. “For the last two weeks I cannot sleep for one hour or two hours at a time. I get nightmares.”

A half-day after what was supposed to be a 72-hour unconditional cease-fire collapsed in just 90 minutes, we visited with Nagi, a native Palestinian who didn’t want to give his family’s last name in fear of retribution. He says his mother, father, aunts and uncles, in-laws and friends are all on the ground in Gaza.

He says many of them are living in abject squalor and terror since the current conflict started.

“I fear for them. For their life and for their safety,” he said. “Shelling and bombing has gotten closer and closer to the point where my family has had to move five times.  “My sister and some of her kids live in the street.”

Over the phone, CBS 3’s Steve Patterson spoke to Nagi’s friend, former NASA Scientist and current UNESCO Chair for Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Sciences Suleiman Baraka. He could barely be heard over the constant shelling in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis:

(Patterson:) “What is it like there where you are now?”

(AUDIBLE SHELLING) “Oh god…,” Baraka said.

(Patterson:) “Are you okay?”

“It’s a heavy shelling you know, it’s crazy, crazy,” Baraka said.

(Patterson:) “How close is that to you?”

“A few meters,” Baraka said.

(Patterson:) “Meters… do you need to get to safety?”

“It’s very dangerous. It’s extreme dangerous. It’s extreme crazy dangerous,” Baraka said.

Baraka, who says he was hiding in a pitch black hole, had to hang up and find better cover.

Nagi told CBS 3 however you fall politically, whatever side you take or wherever you see the crisis going, the situation on the ground is grim, and though it may be a world away, it’s real.

“There is no safe area in Gaza,” he said.

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